A National “Don’t Say Gay” Law? Republicans introduce bill to restrict LGBTQ-related programs

Congressional Republicans have introduced what some are calling a nationwide version of Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Bill — or what critics have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana and 32 other Republican members of Congress on Tuesday introduced the Stop the Sexualization of Children Act of 2022, which would prohibit the use of federal funds “to develop, implement, facilitate, or fund any program of a sexual nature, event, or literature for children under 10, and for other purposes.

The bill defines “sexual material” as “any depiction, description or simulation of sexual activity, any obscene or lascivious depiction or description of human genitalia, or any subject matter involving gender identity, dysphoria gender, transgenderism, sexual orientation or related activities. topics.”

The sweeping legislation would affect all federally funded facilities and programs, including public libraries, federally funded schools, military bases and hospitals. This would prohibit schools, for example, from providing sex education or library books that include LGBTQ topics to children under 10. It would also prevent public libraries from using funds to hold Drag Story Hour events – a nationwide program launched in 2015 in which drag performers read children’s books to children.

Johnson called the bill “common sense.”

“The Democratic Party and its cultural allies are waging a misguided crusade to immerse young children in sexual imagery and radical gender ideology,” he said in a statement. “No federal taxes should go to federal, state, or local government agencies, or private organizations that intentionally expose children under the age of 10 to sexually explicit material.”

Some critics on social media have called the bill “a version of Florida’s recently enacted Parental Rights in Education Act”on steroids.”

LGBTQ advocates have dubbed the parental rights measure the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill because it prohibits “classroom teaching by school personnel or third parties about sexual orientation or gender identity. “K-3” or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students according to state standards. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the draft of law in March.

Proponents of the law say it only applies up to grade 3, but critics have pointed to the “age or development appropriate” clause, which some legal experts say could expose teachers at all levels to legal action by parents.

Advocates say the law stigmatizes LGBTQ families and gay youth, who already face disproportionate rates of bullying and harassment at school.

“Your bill defines ‘material of a sexual nature’ as anything involving sexual orientation, gender identity, or related matters,” Alejandra Caraballo, clinical instructor at Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic and rights advocate transgender people, said on Twitter in response to a message from Johnson. “Equating LGBTQ people with sexually explicit material is dehumanizing and disgusting. Let’s call it what it is, a nationwide “don’t say gay” bill.

But some supporters say the federal bill would actually go further than Florida’s measure, as its impacts would extend beyond the classroom to any institution, program or event that receives federal funding or takes place on federal property.

The bill is part of a nationwide wave of legislation in recent years that characterizes LGBTQ people and concepts as inherently sexual, despite being among the first introduced at the federal level.

In addition to measures such as Florida’s Parental Rights Bill, some Republicans have gone so far as to say that exposing children to drag performers or LGBTQ-inclusive programs is a form of sexual “grooming.” — resurfacing a decades-old false moral panic about LGBTQ people.

Just a day before Johnson introduced the Stop the Sexualization of Children Act, Blaine Conzatti, president of the conservative Idaho Family Policy Center, told the Idaho Capital Sun that state officials would introduce a bill in January to ban drag shows in all public places in the state.

“No child should ever be exposed to sexual displays like drag shows in public places, whether in a public library or a public park, he said.

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